Are We Scher This Guy is Human?
It's Max Scherzer's world. I'm just blogging about it.
We interrupt your regularly scheduled programming to bring you Max Scherzer stack, a weekly newsletter that’s just 1,000 words of gushing and hyping the greatest pitcher to apparently ever put on a Dodger uniform.
If you were watching baseball instead of football yesterday, you already know that Scherzer struck out his 3,000th career batter, threw an immaculate inning, and took a perfect game against the Padres into the 8th inning. I’m running out of adjectives to describe this man and what he has meant to the Dodgers.
Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times wrote a great column today in which he rightly pointed out that Scherzer would not be a Dodger if Trevor Bauer wasn’t on leave for alleged sexual assault. I will go Shaikin one further: Trevor Bauer should not and will not throw another inning for the Dodgers, regardless of whatever the police investigation into his alleged criminal conduct uncovers. Especially since the Washington Post reported in August that a second woman sought a restraining order against Bauer in Ohio last year. At this point, the Dodgers are just waiting for MLB to hand down Bauer’s suspension. And they had better hope it’s a long one, because any suspension will be unpaid, meaning they will recoup at least some of the $102 million they guaranteed him over three season.
After yesterday’s game, Scherzer said he hoped to be in LA to witness Clayton Kershaw collect his 3,000th strikeout. Kershaw’s K total sits at 2,653. He will need at least two more seasons to hit 3,000. Scherzer is only signed with Los Angeles through the end of this season. The Dodgers should take the money they gave Bauer last year and give it to Scherzer right now. He might want to test the free agent waters, but it’s difficult to imagine him finding a better fit than Los Angeles. He said he wants to a) pitch in warm weather, b) pitch for a winner, and c) pitch in the National League. The Braves and the Padres could fit those criteria, but the Dodgers are clearly the best match because they’ve been to the World Series three out of the last four years. Would Scherzer turn down a three year deal worth $102 million to stay where he’s put together the best six-week stretch of pitching in his life? I doubt it.
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Here’s the reality check for the Dodgers, though: Even though they swept the Padres this weekend they did not gain an inch on the Giants, who have won seven games in a row. In fact, they lost two games in the standings to San Francisco this week, and now trail by 2.5 with 18 left to play. That math is not great. The Giants have 19 games left, 10 of which are against the Padres. So the Dodgers hopes of winning the NL West for the ninth consecutive year rest on San Diego’s ability to beat San Francisco. Big yikes. I still believe the Dodgers are better than the Giants. And they will be helped by the fact that the Padres need to win as many games as possible to make the playoffs. I just don’t know if the Dodgers will have enough time to close the gap on San Francisco before the season ends. The way Max Scherzer is pitching right now, though, Los Angeles may be able to throw him in that wild card game and pencil in a W.
Clayton Kershaw will return to the hill tonight for the Dodgers after a two month absence due to elbow soreness. This is a monumental evening for Los Angeles, because if Kershaw is good and healthy, the Dodgers will instantly become World Series favorites again. I’ve known Kershaw for thirteen years now, and I’ve had to resist the urge to text him 20 times while he’s been out. I have so many questions for him-- about Scherzer, the Giants, his elbow, Pujols, Bellinger, Bauer, how his wife and kids are navigating preschool and Covid, how hard it is to repeat as world champions, etc.--that my brain feels like it may explode. But because I would like to stay on friendly terms with him, I have not bugged him while he’s been hurt. That changes tomorrow (sorry, Clayton!). Once he has shown he is healthy, I’ll get back to bugging him on a regular basis and tell you guys everything he says.
In the meantime, tonight I’ll be looking at his velocity (a fastball that tops out at 89, for instance, would be bad), and the movement of his slider (he wants that pitch to have a 10 o’clock to 4 o’clock bite). Should he make it through his start without incident, the next test will be how that left elbow feels in the next few days. Whatever pain he feels will probably correlate to the pain the Dodgers will feel down the season’s stretch. If he’s pain free, the Dodgers might finish the season on a 16-2 run. If they do that, the Giants will need to finish the season 14-5 to force a one-game tiebreak playoff for the NL West crown the day after the season ends. Will you guys murder me if I root for this?